Thursday, July 25, 2013

A DANGEROUS FICTION


Happy release day to Barbara Rogan’s new book A DANGEROUS FICTION!

  
 Jo Donovan always manages to come out on top. From the backwoods of Appalachia, she forged a hard path to life among the literati in New York City. At thirty-five, she’s the widow of the renowned author Hugo Donovan and the owner of one of the best literary agencies in town. Jo is living the life she dreamed of but it’s all about to fall apart.

When a would-be client turns stalker, Jo is more angry than shaken until her clients come under attack. Meanwhile, a biography of Hugo Donovan is in the works and the author’s digging threatens to destroy the foundations of Jo’s carefully constructed life. As the web of suspicion grows wider and her stalker ups the ante, she’s persuaded by her client and friend—FBI profiler-turned-bestselling-thriller writer—to go to the police. There Jo finds herself face-to-face with an old flame: the handsome Tommy Cullen, now NYPD detective.
 

 Barbara Rogan is the author of eight novels and coauthor of several nonfiction books. Her latest novel,  A DANGEROUS FICTION, a mystery set in the publishing world, has just come out with  Viking Books.  She has also worked extensively in publishing, starting out an editor at Fawcett, then as founder and director of the Barbara Rogan Literary Agency. She has taught fiction writing at Hofstra University and SUNY Farmingdale, and currently teaches for Writers Digest University and in her own online school, Next Level Workshops.  A frequent lecturer on both the business and craft of writing, she writes a popular blog, In Cold Ink, and teaches seminars and master classes at writers’ conferences.



  

Your latest book takes place in the publishing word, a world you’re very familiar with, was writing about something so familiar easier or more difficult than other settings?  
It was so much easier I sometimes worried I was getting lazy. Having been an editor in a large New York publishing house and then a literary agent for many years, I know the industry from the inside. I’m also quite fond of it, which I imagine comes across in the book. It was great fun. I traveled widely, drank too much champagne and consumed too many publishing lunches. The people I worked with—publishers, agents, and authors, many of them brilliant, all of them book-lovers—were at the heart of that experience; and returning to that world was one of the great pleasures of writing A DANGEROUS FICTION.

How much research is associated with your books? 
Quite a bit; almost as much research as procrastination. My previous books  dealt with topics as diverse as chaos physics, jazz, Shaker furniture, adobe houses, high-level embezzlement, homicide investigation and open-heart surgery, none of which were areas of particular expertise until I started writing about them.
I usually start with reading tons of books and articles. I try to find experts willing to work with me; and then I go out and see things for myself. A few pages in A DANGEROUS FICTION concerns the training of protection dogs: that was fun research. I once spent three weeks in an inner-city ER, trailing doctors and nurses. I’ve met with retired spies, homicide detectives, jazz musicians, physicists, reporters, carpenters, heart surgeons, and nuclear physicists, all of whom were incredibly generous with their time and expertise. It’s a fallacy to think that fiction writers just “make it all up.” Fiction always needs to sound plausible, or readers won’t believe; and sounding plausible requires learning enough so that experts in the  various fields, reading the book, will nod their heads, not scratch them.

You used to be an agent, Do you have an agent to represent you or do you handle it yourself?  What advantages are there to having an agent?
 I have a literary agent, the wonderful Gail Hochman of Brandt and Hochman. I wouldn’t represent myself even if I were still an agent, because you can’t tout your own work the way you can a client’s. Having an agent is necessary if you want to get your work read by the right editors in the major publishing houses. Most of them don’t take unagented submissions. A good agent is an essential part of the team that goes into publishing any book. Their job starts with selling the book to a publisher, but doesn’t end there. The agent looks after the writer’s interests in every phase of the publishing process, acts as an intermediary to get information and settle any issues that arise, gives career guidance, and educates the client about the realities of the publishing world. Many of them act as the first editor of the book, in order to go out with the strongest possible work. They also handle subsidiary rights, including translation, film and serial rights. A solitary author has far less clout in the world of big publishing than an agent with a strong list.


You recently had some books re-released in ebook form.  Did you do that yourself or did your publisher do it? Can you tell us about them? 
This was really a banner year for me. Five of my books were re-released this year, and I’m thrilled that readers who discover me through A DANGEROUS FICTION will have other books available to them.

The three most recent titles, HINDSIGHT, SUSPICION, and ROWING IN EDEN, were reissued by their original publisher, Simon & Schuster, in ebook and paperback editions. Rights to two earlier novels, CAFÉ NEVO and SAVING GRACE, had reverted, and for a while I considered reissuing them myself as ebooks; but the prospect of self-publishing was daunting in terms of time and learning curve. Also, after working with top professionals, I had too much respect for what they do to think I could duplicate all that work myself. So I got in touch with Richard Curtis, venerable literary agent and founder of E-Reads, the oldest ebook publisher in the country. We’d been colleagues back when I was an agent, and Richard, who knew my books, offered to reissue them in his imprint…which he did. For me, it’s a dream come true to have six books in print at the same time.

I’m a slow writer.  I know each writer has to go at their own pace but about how long does it take you to write a book?  Does it vary book to book, or is it fairly standard?
It varies according to how much research is required and other factors. But I’m quite slow, too. Most of my books have taken two years to write and revise; one took as long as five years.

 Do you have a favorite character that you’ve written?  Favorite character that someone else has written?
 Jo Donovan, the protagonist of A DANGEROUS FICTION, is my favorite, as evidenced by the fact that she’s the first character I’ve ever felt drawn to write a series about. She’s the smartest character I’ve ever created, but also the most flawed.  Her virtues are ones I admire—she’s tough, resourceful, and loyal—but her flaws are what make her interesting to me. She sees either very clearly or not at all; she’s an expert in every sort of fiction except the kind she tells herself.
As for other writers’ characters, there are many who’ve become part of my life. But if I had to pick a favorite, I’d say Huck Finn. Love that kid.

Can you tell us about the classes you teach?
With pleasure. After teaching writing at Hofstra Unversity, SUNY and online for Writers Digest, I started my own online school of writing, the Next Level Workshop. I teach several intensive workshops a year for fiction writers who are serious about mastering the craft, including “One Good Scene,” based on the premise that all the skills writers need to write fiction can be learned by focusing on the creation of one good scene;  and “Revising Fiction,” my most advanced workshop, for writers who have completed a draft of their novel and want help bringing it to the next level. I keep the classes very small, and I only teach a few each year, so there’s usually a waiting list. I don’t advertise. The best way to get in, for writers who are interested, is to contact me via my website (www.nextlevelworkshop.com) and ask to be on my workshop emailing list.





Barbara is not only a wonderful, giving person, she is an amazing writer. I can't wait to read this latest offering and I hope you all join me in giving her a big congrats on her new book.  I know it will be the kind of book you can't put down.

 

38 comments:

  1. Great interview. I enjoyed reading this very much.

    Best of luck, Barbara. :)

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    1. Thanks, it was a great interview to do.

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  2. Great interview. I'm amazed at how much research went into a few page scene. And Barbara's take on the need for an agent is interesting, especially since she was one. Good luck with your book, Barbara.

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    1. Barbara is very knowledgeable about the publishing world, I've learned a lot from her.

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  3. Great interview...it's always nice to see that I'm not the only slow writer out there. :)

    Also, I really dig that cover....very "noir"-ish.

    Nothing but the best to Barbara!

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    1. The cover is great, the book even better!

      No, you're not the only slow writer out there. I'm a turtle. I hope to speed up when my kids age a few years but we'll see, they may just be an excuse, not the cause of my slowness.

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  4. LOVED learning about Barbara, Sara. Thanks so much for this fun interview. She's clearly made a great name for herself in this business. Can't wait to read her work! :D

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    1. She's an awesome person and an even better writer!

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  5. Great interview, Sara! I hope to get back in the saddle and do one with Barbara, too. You asked some wonderful questions.

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    1. Thanks, Zan. Hope your recovery is going well.

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  6. Congrats to Barbara! What a fascinating story. All success!

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  7. Sara, thanks for having me on the blog--it was a lot of fun. And to all those who commented: Many thanks for the good wishes!

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  8. That is an amazing cover. Love the simplicity but strength in the message. The shadow is awesome!

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    1. Glad you noticed the shadow. I didn't the first time but it really adds so much.

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  9. "...almost as much research as procrastination."

    What a grrrreat line! Thanks, ladies. This was a terrific interview, and I'll definitely look into some of these books. With some of the neat people this lovely author has trailed, I'd like to trail HER trailing THEM...

    Beat wishes, Barbara. Having all those books available simultaneously must be like a dream come true.

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    1. Loved that line! It would be fun to follow her through the whole process of writing a book.

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  10. It's reassuring to read about an author who takes two years to write a book. Sometimes it feels like everyone else is writing three in the time it takes me to write one!

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    1. I know! I'm the same way, I keep telling myself my book will be better for the time spent on it but it can still be discouraging.

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  11. Thanks, Susan, it is indeed a lifelong ambition come true. Once only the top top tier of writers could keep their backlists in print. The ebook revolution changed that...though I still like the feel of real books.

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  12. Greetings humans Sara and Barbara,

    Barbara, wishing you much fulfilment and success with, "A DANGEROUS FICTION." A huge amount of informative insight.

    Very good of you to bring further awareness of Barbara on your site, Sara. Being such a wonderful dog, I shall share this posting. Even on 'Farcebark'! :)

    I was going to do a bit more research into my latest book, however, maybe tomorrow or the next day or...

    A pawsitive weekend,

    Penny the Jack Russell dog and modest internet superstar!

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    1. Thanks, Penny, tell your pet, I mean owner, that we appreciate him letting you drop by.

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  13. Great interview indeed! Those classes sound so cool, I wish I could be in them.

    Sarah Allen
    (From Sarah, with Joy)

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    1. I know some people who have taken the classes and I've heard they are amazing.

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  14. Barbara is an interesting person and it sounds like she's led a fascinating life!
    I like the sound of this book.
    Writer In Transit

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  15. As a writer aspiring to get into the publishing industry, I find it intriguing to read about a story of suspense set in this world. Great interview!

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    1. Thanks, It was a great read and it was very interesting to see things from the viewpoint of an agent.

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  16. This interview blew me away, and I'd love to read about the inner workings of the industry. Thanks for being here Barbara - it's good to meet you! :)

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    1. Thanks David. The book will blow you away too. It was a great read.

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  17. Congrats to Barbara! Great interview ladies.

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  18. Sounds so intense and a tad frightening!

    Great interview :)

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  19. Wonderful interview, Sara and Barbara!
    I love the research aspect of writing - now I wish I had some sort of medical scene. Three weeks of observing/learning in an ER sounds very exciting!

    Congratulations!

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  20. Great interview, you guys!

    Barbara, three weeks in an ER? Now, that's dedication to research! Was that for A HEARTBEAT AWAY? I loved that book. And I can't wait until life slows down enough for me to read A DANGEROUS FICTION, because it sounds like precisely my cup of tea.

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  21. Loved the interview,and absolutely loved the book. Congrats to both of you

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